Signs that you have a technology addiction

You wake up in the morning and you immediately reach for your phone. Half asleep, you check your texts and emails even though there is no urgency need to do so. Feeling satisfied, you move onto your social media – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram again, Snapchat, etc. After a few minutes, you get out of bed and get ready for your day. You repeat your tech checks once again during breakfast, your morning commute, throughout your day at work or school, at the dinner table, and before bed. Sound familiar? You’re likely one of the many people who suffer from a technology addiction. The good news is you can overcome your addiction and reclaim your life.

So what are the some signs that you’ve got a technology addiction?

  • You instantly reach for your phone when it rings
  • You have a mini heart attack when you accidently put your phone in the wrong pocket
  • You become anxious if you don’t check a notification instantly
  • Experience light withdrawal symptoms if you can’t get online
  • Habitually late or routinely fail to meet your commitments because of technology
  • You feel happy while checking social media
  • Take phone into the bathroom
  • Sacrifice sleep to spend time online
  • No longer engage in activities you once enjoyed
  • Social skills have deteriorated / you feel uncomfortable around others
  • Your attempts to decrease your use of technology have failed

Ok, I’m addicted, how does it affect me?

  1. Decreased sleep quality a Harvard Health study revealed that blue light (the same kind that comes from our device displays) 2-3 hours before bed can decrease melatonin and impact the quality of our sleep.
  2. Increased restlessness / inability to concentrate our devices deliver stimuli in quick bursts and encourage us to multitask, something that humans are not able to do effectively. Overtime this behaviour increases our restlessness while decreasing our ability to concentrate.
  3. Anxiety and stress – with connection comes lack of work-life balance. Carrying a device for the majority of a day is no longer allowing people to disconnect from their obligations. A work email for most is but a glance away at any given time.
  4. Inability to retain information – the internet has made it easier than ever to quickly access information and as a result we’re relying less on our brains to store information. Bookmarks, evernote, screenshots, and reminders allow us to save information elsewhere.
  5. Greater susceptibility to distractions – frequent notifications have increased our susceptibility to distractions. Mobile operating systems make it easy to multitask and jump from application to application and have trained our brains that it is okay to do so.
  6. Reduced productivity – technology has done good and bad for productivity. Time tracking apps, calendars, reminders, and other productivity applications can provide the rewarding stimuli of feeling productive, causing us to lose sight of how little we’ve accomplished.
  7. Strained relationships – meeting with friends just isn’t as intimate as it once was. People gravitate to their phones to escape conversational lulls and awkward moments.

If the symptoms or consequences listed above resonate with you, you may want to consider a tech detox. It is difficult to completely disconnect from technology as it has become so ubiquitous. We use technology at work, school, socially, at home, and in our cars. Consider the detox challenge on an off day, once a week. Kind of like a digital sabbath if you will.

How to have a weekly technology detox:

  • Hide your phone and tablet for 24 hours
  • Store your laptop and unplug your desktop
  • Unplug your internet routers
  • Unplug the TV and hide the remote
  • Wear a watch
  • Schedule some tech-free activities with family and friends (e.g. hiking, meeting for coffee, dinners)
  • Connect with strangers you run into
  • Read a book
  • Learn a new skill (prepare your resources in advance)

It’ll be a difficult 24 hours and you’ll need plenty to keep you occupied. You’ll benefit from your weekly detox by breaking your cycle of addiction, developing deeper social connections, reclaiming time, cleared thinking, better sleep, less stress, and giving your brain some rest. Keep the benefits in mind for motivation. Try and get in the habit of disconnecting once a week. If the cold turkey approach doesn’t work, try to ease into a detox by avoiding additional devices each week, starting with your phone.

Weekly disconnection will mitigate your dependency on your devices and help you regain your life.

To maximize long-term effectiveness, consider the following:

  1. Clean up your safari or chrome bookmarks
  2. Avoid instantly checking a notification
  3. Avoid instantly responding to unimportant messages
  4. Declutter the media and applications on your phone
  5. Protect your inbox with filters and
  6. Take a minute unsubscribe from emails you find yourself constantly deleting
  7. Get rid of unnecessary Facebook friends, twitter users, and insta-followings
  8. Streamline unnecessary notifications using settings
  9. No tech 1 hour before bed
  10. 30 minutes before using tech in the morning

It’s near impossible to completely avoid technology, and that shouldn’t be the end goal. Technology does a lot of good for us, but with anything, it should be consumed in moderation. I wish you the best of luck in your ongoing quest to overcome your technology addiction. Let us know about your successes in overcoming your addiction in the comment section below.

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